Once per month heralds at various levels, all over the Middle Kingdom and the SCA itself, get together to have commenting sessions on names and devices that have been sent in for approval. These sessions are for the heralds to look at each name and device submitted for possible conflictions of other names and devices previously approved.
The person submitting a name must provide proof that the name, in some format, existed in the time period the SCA ranges in. Sometimes this means that a name can only be used up to a certain century. There are some books on file that do not need proof because they are known, valid sources for names. These sources can make approval easier because the comment heralds do not have to make sure the name existed. However they still have to double check that the name, or a similar sounding or spelled name, is not already in use by someone else. The SCA does not want two people to have names that are both identical or sound the same since mistakes can be made in court when someone receives a scroll if this is the case.
Any proof that is not part of these books must be verified as best as the commenting heralds can. Some times the reference the person gives leads the heralds back to a known, valid source and helps with the approval process. Other times it does not and the heralds must make every effort to find where the name was used. For either, comments can and usually are made about validity or incorrectness.
Any device that is submitted must be with a name or after a name has been approved for the person. It is recommended that the device be given to a local herald before submitting for conflict checking and that it follows the rules of heraldry. One thing that has changed is that England, where the heraldry archives are for true historical devices, does not see the SCA as a threat and thus someone can have the same device in the SCA that legally exists in history. However that device could not be displayed on someone’s gates in England.
A color copy of the device must be sent along with the blazon so that any herald who reads the blazon could recreate the device without a picture. This is why the rules must be followed. The rules also apply since a device must be recognizable from 10 feet away on a battle field to distinguish one person from another. It is also recommended that bright colored markers be used to appropriately show the device. If someone is looking at the device online, as some of the commenting is done, pencil coloring can make it difficult to see the contrast a device will have.
After the color rules are checked, the device is checked against a database to make sure that there are at least 2 clear differences from another device. Again this is so that from 10 feet away someone can tell that the red and gold device with the bear standing is not the same as the white and black device with the bear lying down. Color checking is done first and then the most unused items, or charges. If the most obvious and commonly used charges were checked first, it could take hours to make sure a device was allowed.
Again the heralds can make comments on if one is good, had good contrast so it stands out, has followed the rules, does not conflict, etc. This process can take a while if there are a lot of entries. Each month is different but very few names and/or devices are uncommon. Once this is done, the comments are sent on with the items to the Laurel who decides whether to pass or return the submitted.